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Everyday Enlightenment
   by Varun Soni

Why do Yoga? Sure, it will make you look fine and feel good. It's a great conversation piece and a way of connecting with an ancient land and far off place. You can impress your friends with exotic postures and Sanskrit pronunciation. Undoubtedly, these are all attractive reasons for yoganating at Yoganation.

However, the architects of Yoga had none of these reasons in mind and could not foresee such 21st century developments. Yoga has now found a comfortable niche amongst protein shakes, crystal balls, aroma therapy, and new age gurus,but it is important to remember that its roots lie deep within the Indian philosophical landscape. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy, and primarily concerns itself with the philosophical dilemma of suffering. Only after Yoga had developed into a philosophical system did the physical component of Hatha-yoga arise.

We live in two worlds, the world of material reality (the outer
world) and the world of thoughts and perception (the inner world). In today's capitalist booming economy, happiness is said to come from the acquisition of material goods. We are taught that if we can manipulate our outer world in the right way, we will be happy. If we surround ourselves with the right people, the
right clothes, the right job, the right house, we will not suffer. The philosophy of Yoga takes a drastically different approach to the same problem. According to Yoga, we must concentrate on the inner world and not the outer world. The inner world of thoughts and perception is more powerful than the outer world of
materiality. Instead of focusing on changing the status of our material surroundings, we should instead change our perception of our material surroundings.

Yoga requires that we examine our thoughts and judgements. The one thing that all people in the world seem to want is happiness. Yoga shows us that such happiness can only come from peace of mind. Peace of mind can only arise by the cessation of thoughts. The moments we feel most peaceful occur between thoughts, when our minds are pure and empty. When this happens, we have
peace of mind, we have a glimpse of enlightenment, and we have happiness. The physical aspect of Yoga was developed in order to focus the mind is a single direction.While practicing Yoga, the mind and the body work together, and when they unite in perfect harmony, there is no thought or ego, there is no judgement or attachment. There is only peace of mind and a piece of happiness.

When doing Yoga, try and be aware of its philosophical backbone. Realize that enlightenment need not last a lifetime, a single moment is enough. When concentrating on your postures, watch your mind. Let all thoughts and judgements pass. Concentrate on your breath and be in the moment. Feel your trials and tribulations wash away. Leave behind the confines of your outer world. Become the tree that you are emulating and you will taste the sweet morning dew upon your leaves.

Varun Soni is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

     Varun Soni - swamifunk@hotmail.com 

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